With fall coming, that can only mean two things: time to put up the Halloween decorations, and football weekends. And guess which one hubby Rick loves and I hate! Rick sits in front of that TV for so long, cobwebs form around him! Meanwhile, who gets to do the grocery shopping, the cleaning, and the laundry? You guessed it–old Jean the football widow herself!

To hear hubby Rick talk about football, you'd think it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Every Sunday, he and his buddies from the tire center get together to root for the Vikings on our new 30-inch big-screen TV. (It's the one day of the week Rick changes out of his usual camouflage T-shirt.... and into his Cris Carter jersey!)

Last Monday, I told my girlfriends at work that this whole football widow business was driving me crazy. Well, you'd think I'd just read the riot act, because all the gals started shouting about how their own husbands and boyfriends totally ignore them every football Sunday too!

After everyone got through telling their horror stories, Tracy Ehrhardt, our interim supervisor (she's taking the place of Doris, our regular supervisor, who went on maternity leave), suggested that we all get together at her place on Sundays and declare it a Football-Free Zone. We all thought that was the best idea in the world!

Now, at pretty much every job I've ever had, I've been known as the office cut-up. (If you think I'm nutty in my column, you should see me at work!) But I'm afraid that as long as I'm at SouthCentral Insurance, I'll have to relinquish my crown to Tracy. Tracy is the life of the party! She does this dead-on impersonation of Linda Richman. You know, the one on Saturday Night Live who says, "I'm getting all verklemt! Talk quietly amongst yourselves!" Anyway, it's just hilarious! She also makes this terrific fish-face. (She should tape herself and send it to America's Funniest Home Videos. It's that good!) But Tracy had been a little down in the dumps lately because her live-in boyfriend recently left her, so we were all the more delighted that she suggested the party.

That Sunday, when my friend Patti the creative writing teacher and I arrived at Tracy's house, the party was already well underway. Everyone had brought a dish, and everything looked simply mouth-watering. (Eat your hearts out, boys!) And who was at the center of all the fun? You guessed it–Tracy! And believe me, she was stewed to the gills! She was belting down the wine coolers like there was no tomorrow!

Later, as we ate, we got to talking about our silly boyfriends and husbands and their silly football. I mentioned that Rick and his friends have tickets to the Vikings-Lions game in December and plan to paint their chests purple. After I said that, Tracy leaned over to me and whispered, "Ever consider that maybe Rick's a homo?"

Well, that just about knocked the wind out of me! I must have turned about seven shades of red! But that's the kind of crazy joking you have to expect from a wild gal like Tracy! (Touché, Rick!)

Well, after we got through pigging out, we all sat around, too stuffed to move. Then, Sharon, one of the girls from Claims Adjusting and quite a card herself, said, "Well, Tracy, I'd help you clear the dishes, but I'm just too lazy!"

So then Tracy, totally out of the blue, replied, "If you want to see lazy, check out Jean after she gets back from lunch. That's when all those doughnuts and vending-machine snacks start to kick in."

Well, your old pal Jean is big enough to take a joke, but this one seemed a bit too close to the bone. So, I turned to Tracy and said, "That's not true, Tracy. Everybody gets a little run-down and less productive after lunch. Why single me out?"

"Because I can't understand why SouthCentral continues to put up with you, Jean," Tracy said. "You're easily the worst worker in the entire Data Entry department. I'm constantly finding errors in your work, and your evaluations are always poor. And if you think no one notices you punching in 20 minutes before you actually start work or cleaning the coffee machine as an excuse to get away from your desk, think again. You think just because Doris is gone, you can pull all kinds of garbage. If I had any control over it, I'd axe you in a second, but only Doris can do that. But believe me, when she gets back, she'll hear plenty."

I couldn't believe my ears! I had no idea Tracy felt that way about me! The room was silent for what seemed like an eternity. Then Sharon finally said something about how we shouldn't talk shop, and everyone laughed and tried to resume their conversations. Everyone, that is, except me. I was on the verge of bawling! Patti and I left the party a few minutes later.

Patti told me not to worry about what Tracy said because she was really drunk. Besides, Patti said, my true calling is writing, not punching numbers into a computer all day.

I appreciated Patti's words, but inside I was fuming! Just because Tracy was interim supervisor didn't mean she could act all Miss Control Freak! And, technically, I am still a temp, so Tracy isn't even my boss! To think I stayed up half the night baking my legendary Simply Sinful Chocolate Mint Turtle Creme Torte so that I could be subjected to that kind of abuse! (Seems like the "life of the party" became a "party pooper!")

I was sort of afraid to go into work that next morning, but, fortunately, Tracy wasn't there. According to Sharon, shortly after I left Sunday, Tracy locked herself in her bathroom and didn't come out for hours. People could hear her crying and cursing her ex-boyfriend and throwing up. Sharon eventually intervened and sat up with her almost the whole night. The next morning, Tracy called in sick with a killer hangover. Apparently, she remembers nothing of her outburst, and we all decided never to bring it up again.

In spite of my experience, I still recommend that all you football widows out there unite and declare your own Football-Free Zones. (Only lock away those wine coolers!)